About Me

Interview with Evergrey

“A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)”, which was relesead via Napalm Records, on May 20th 2022, is a masterpiece by Evergrey. A new chapter is beginning for the band and the record is awesome!  Tom Englund talked about Greek mythology, lyrics, the team who produced the record and even the wish to return to Portugal!  A very cool dude, with a fine culture! Listen to the record, you won’t regret it!

M.I. -  Hi there, Tom. On my behalf, Metal Imperium and the Portuguese fans, I want to thank you the opportunity for this interview. How are you and the band?

We’re doing great! Lots of interviews! Several weeks in a row, 8 hours per day! You’re the first one today! Yeah! Very busy, very glad to have the interest of everyone! Everything is looking great!

M.I. -  A new chapter is beginning for you, with a debut alongside Napalm Records. Congrats! How does it feel for you, working with them? What main differences did you feel, artistically speaking, between the two labels (Napalm and AFM)?

Thank you, thank you! Let’s hope for the best! So far so good, but it’s very early. We have released two singles. If you ask me in one year, I will give a better answer. Hopefully, I will be just as satisfied as I am now. But you never know! 
Artistically, no diferences at all! We have 100% full freedom. We have been doing this for such a long time, so it’s impossible for a label to come in and start interfering with the artist side of Evergrey. So, there’s no difference!

M.I. -  “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)”, was released on May 20th 2022, is an unique and one of of a kind name for an album. How did you decide for this name? How important is the Greek mythology for your music and lyrics?

I would say that the “A Heartless Portrait” part of the title, is based on a summary of all the other albums, that I’ve ever released, where I talk about myself. I would say it’s like excerpts out of diaries. From a life, I would say! That’s why I named it like that! 
The second part of the title, is based on the Greek mythology, of course! Of Orpheus, but I put into the context of the mankid, of shortcomings. How we think we are Gods, egoistic, don’t follow Human morals. You can see they’re easily in the World, right now! So, for me, when Orpheus had the chance to save his loved one from Hell, the only thing he had to do was to look forward! He chose to look back! So, that’s a very egoistic action from his side! That’s sort of symbolic for humankind today!
(Laugs) Not at all! It’s just something that fascinates sometimes, to see and read short summaries of Greek mythology, because it had a great impact on drama and music, from the beginning of time, I would say. So, not more than that! I’m not very educated at all!

M.I. -  Still talking about the title, which is entrancing like an Orphean itself. What features of the poet Orpheus fascinated you, that inspired you?

Just the part that he writes sad songs, that makes the Gods cry, but it’s also a very egoistic version of him, feeling pity of himself, instead he should be mourning his loved one, which he is, but he is also putting all of the focus on himself, which is very common today, I think.

M.I. -  Your voice never ceases to amaze and gets better with every album. Your journey through progressive, heaviness mixes and combines with emotion. So awesome that your fans are the most dedicated of the world. How did you prepare yourself vocally for this record? What major differences did you notice the most?

I went straight from the “Escape Of The Phoenix” album into this. So, I guess preparing was just me being in the studio at all times. That’s what I do every day. I’m in the studio working for different projects, different bands. I guess my best preparation, is just being busy! Keep on singing, keep on doing, keep the voice in shape and not talk so much that I do now. Now I talk 8 hours per day and that really harms the voice, to be honest. But it is what it is!
I have another band called “Silenced Guys”, as well and in “Silenced Guys” I sing very mellow and and low-key. Maybe some of that influenced my singing on the “A Heartless Portrait” album, as well. The other thing, is that I just want to be better and better, and better, and better. I have not stopped my proggress, the evolution of my voice. It’s still going on! So, it’s something that I cherish very much!

M.I. -  This is your thirteenth album and you took ten months to write it. How did you write the songs? Did you have songs left from the 2021’s album “Escape of the Phoenix” session? Could you, please, tell us everything about the writing process? 

We released the “Escape of the Phoenix” in February, last year. As I said, we went straight from the “Escape of the Phoenix” album into this one, because we knew we wouldn’t be able to tour. “Escape of the Phoenix” came out in 2021 and this one is out in 2022. So, it’s an extremely fast recording process for us. Because of us not touring, we wanted to to do something that was quick! We were also switching labels and, thefore, made sense for us to just make more music, as we had the time to do so! 
No! We never have songs left at all! We have lots of ideas, but the ideas stay ideas, because they don’t make it to become songs. So, we never use old material either! I think we have at least 200 song ideas in our computers, but they will never be used, because they’re old and we like to write new stuff. So, no! No saved projects for any later albums!
The writing process is like the usual! As I said, we met after the day of the “Escape of the Phoenix” came out, sat down and said: “Yeah! Maybe we should just keep on writing!”. So, we all went back to our different studios and started writing our own stuff. Then, after six weeks, we met again, sat down and tried to figure out what of all these ideas we wanted to use. And then we wrote them down, 12 to 10 song ideas, that me and Jonas, the drummer, went back and to started writing songs out of them. And that’s usually how we work! After a month, we go back to the band and say: “Ok! This is where we are right now! How does it sound? Do you want to add something? Do you think it’s good?”! Then, taking into consideration whatever everybody says, we go back again to our studios and keep on producing the material! After that, we record the guitars, vocals first and all keyboards. At the end of the recording, we record the bass and drums together, so that they have a full backing tracks of everything in perfect quality and they can sort of figure out how much of their breaks, fills and stuff, we can use, based on what’s already there, in terms of vocals, because the air in the production is extremely important for us. Yeah! So, that’s how it works!

M.I. -  Each and every song also have its own instrumentation and way of playing. A person with a good ear and sensibility will notice it. Very well played! It’s groovy and dynamic. What kind of magic did you make this time and how did you choose the instruments for them?

How should I answer that? We just play music the way we can play music! We never think about our own capabilities or own instruments. We use our instruments as tools, to make the song! For me, I’m extremely song-based! I’m only interested in the final result of the song! I’m not particularly interested in instrumentation at all if it does not serve the song! The song is first, 95% of the song is the actual song quality for me! And then, of course, we’re capable of playing guitar solos, bass solos, keyboard solos, but only if the song needs it!

M.I. -  You have worked with the most amazing people in the music scene to produce this album. How was it working with Jacob Hansen, Jonas Ekdahl, Jakob Herman, Giannis Nakos and Patric Ullaeus?

It’s great! I mean, this is the team of Evergrey today! Me and Jonas produced the album, Jacob mixes it and Giannis makes the covers. Patric makes sort of visual ideas come to life together with me. It’s my ideas, but he makes my words translate through the camera, to become stories and videos! 
It’s just a great team that we have! Evergrey and Patric have worked together since 2001. It’s a very long time for us, together! it’s two decades of film making together. We know each other very well! I don’t know how many videos we made! Maybe I should count someday! Working together for such a long time, we get to know each other. We’re also personal friends! Professionaly, we get to know each other on a very deep level! So, we know what we want to do! We can understand the vicious we have! With Jacob, this is his 5th album with Evergrey, I think! It’s also a very long time! it’s more albums than many bands do in their all career, but it’s what we have done with Jacob so far. Jacob is the 6th member of the band, in terms of making our audio sonic, dreams come out. Out of those 5 albums, Giannis has done three covers! He’s extremely attentive and a great artist. Let him do what he wants, based on the lyrics, that I give him and the title of the album. He just runs with it!
It’s a team that I’m very greatful to have and appreciate very much!

M.I. -  You have a remarkable catalogue, with albums released through AFM Records, Inside Out Records and Napalm. Will you be rereleasing the old ones through Napalm?

We have released the old ones with AFM. Ever since the first album, we rereleased with AFM.

M.I. -  You also have another ptoject: “Silent Skies”, with classic pianist Vikram Shankar. So beautiful! Will you be releasing something anytime soon?

We have to wait for another one, since we’ve released a new record! It’s two years between albums! Let’s see! We’re working constantly together. So, there will be more music!

M.I. -  You have 25 years of existence and new opportunities are being opened with this album. What do you expect with the beginning of this chapter: an European tour, that will come to Portugal? Who will be the supporting band? Can you tell us about it, please?

I don’t know! I haven’t checked if we come to Portugal! We start the European tour, in September, for 6 weeks! I don’t know if we are coming to Portugal, to be honest! Since I’m not very confident it will happen yet, because of the pandemic, I’m not going into the details of the touring yet! I will do that later, when I know we’re going on tour. Then, I sort of dig into the details of touring! 
So, yeah! I would love to come to Portugal again! We’ve been there a few times, but we would love to come again, of course! I don’t know yet! 

M.I. -  Once again, thank you for this opportunity, Tom. Can you leave some words for Portugal, the Portuguese fans and the readers of Metal Imperium?

Thanks for having me! As soon as we have the chance, we’ll come to Portugal! We have many friends there! You have a bunch of great bands, so, we would love to come and play for you guys! Any festivals, clubs, just keep in touch and we’ll be there as soon as we can!

For Portuguese version, click here

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Questions by Raquel Miranda